Think Before You Speak This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Haveyour grandparents ever told you stories about how hard life was for them and howlucky our generation is? I have, and I've paid close attention to them. I comefrom Mexican-Indian ancestry and the stories I hear make me cry.

Mygrandparents once lived in poor homes with dirt floors and outhouses, withoutelectricity. Trying to support nine kids on three dollars a week was pretty hard.Unable to put food on the table or shoes on their feet inspired them to one daylive in America. Like many other families, my grandparents migrated here asaliens. Even the children worked long hours picking chile and hoeing weedsbecause there was no time for them to go to school.

Now I'm here, ateenager with Mexican heritage living in the state of Arizona. I'm as much anAmerican as anyone else. When I hear rude remarks like, "Why don't thosewetbacks stay in their own country? They only cause trouble" or "Ourtaxes pay for their welfare," I feel sad. I encourage you to think beforesaying something like that.

America tries to keep aliens out; maybe thisis good in some ways, but it is also bad. Today's Mexicans come from ancientMayan and Aztec cultures that lived on these continents long before Columbus"discovered" America.

Now more than 600 years later, peopleof mostly European ancestry who immigrated here one way or another occupy theUnited States and are keeping away those who lived here first. Mexicans haveenriched our country with their customs, food and hard work, and they deserverespect. We can recognize their contributions by finding a way for them to cometo our country legally so they can pursue their dreams just like the rest of us.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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